Najah Heir, managed a kindergarten until she had her daughter who suffered from celiac. Najah started baking gluten- free products, but after a conversation with Jasmine CEO, Kiram Baloum, she opened an independent factory and distributed her products to nature shops all around Israel
Najah, 48, had a pretty regular life until life gave her an opportunity to make a change and she decided to take it. Her amazing story together with Jasmine’s story turned out to be another success story of women who aim higher.
A small home- bakery
Najah, residing in Peki’in, married to Fadel Heir and mother of 4, 3 boys and a girl, Yara, who was diagnosed with celiac, “life offered me lemons, and I made lemonade”, says Najah, who managed a kindergarten for years, “I know how hard it was for us to handle celiac in our times, because there was no awareness as there is today and there were not many products which were made for celiac patients.
“As a result, I started making gluten- free products for my household and gave away to celiac patients. They all loved my products and started asking me to sell them. That is how I opened my first home- made bakery”.
Najah’s business was founded out of her will to help others, and so she worked in the bakery, the kindergarten and in the family business. 5 years later, Najah decided to change track, give up the kindergarten and focus on her bakery.
“I heard Jasmine’s CEO on the radio”
When she looks ahead on her business career, Najah remembers a radio interview she has heard a few years back with Jasmine’s CEO, Kiram Baloum, about the organization’s activities- being the leading organization in economic promotion of women owners of businesses, of all sectors, religions and status. “at this point, I had my bakery and the family business was being established, Zimmers for tourists, and thus our financial situation needed help. By sheer coincidence, I heard Kiram on the radio talk about her support for women and decided to call her. She took me very seriously and supported me from the beginning”, she says.
After that conversation, Najah decided to expand her bakery and open a line of production in a factory for gluten- free products. Today, this factory which is in Tefen awaits its final papers to open.
Kiram says that: “the process I had with Najah was full of adjusting to new concepts, habits and customs, but she believed in herself and was willing to be open for anything, including transferring her recipes from home to her factory”.
“Mama Yara” Factory
With Jasmine’s support and Kiram’s personal guidance, Najah received mentoring from Hisham Graiebi, who helped her draft a business plan and gave her financial advice. Today, Najah is mentored by Miri Peleg- Granot, who helped her in marketing her business and draft a work plan in accordance to the business plan. ” the plan is to distribute the products to nature shops, when the first distribution will be in the North and then to the center”, says Najah. The new business is called after her daughter Yara- “Mama Yara” and makes 10 products, including Sambosak with various flavors, inflated Pita, cheese calls, dough covered cheese sticks and more: “this is a factory that makes gluten- free products that are not available in the market with this quality and flavor, and look very good too”. Najah explains.
About her success, Najah says: “I have always wanted to expand my business but faced financial challenges, until my brother said he’ll invest in the factory. When I spoke to Kiram and told her about this she was very supportive and gave me hope. She is out guide in the business, helping us every step of the way, lighting up our path and providing us with mentors to assist and advice. There are not enough words to describe what Jasmine has given us. If I can say it in one sentence I’d say- we had a path and Jasmine helped us light it up. Thank you from all my heart to everyone who helped and is helping us and a big thank you to the amazing Kiram”.
Najah’s story led Jasmine to receive the Knesset Award in 2016. MP Mirav Ben- Ari said during the ceremony: “Najah is an example for the thousands of women who are guided by Jasmine to be independent and establish their own business in this competitive reality, to reach success”.